Software for Pre-CAD systems design

Tradeshows: Fabtech and Motion Power Technology Expo

It was a joy to (safely) attend the Fabtech and Motion Power Technology shows after too many months of COVID. Attendance was a little depressed from two years ago, but I think the manifest supply-chain challenges of the recent past contribute to a feeling of urgency among manufacturers.

The big booths seemed bigger, with a greater variety of machines and capabilities on display that perhaps evinces the move to more integrated production environments and that the software ecosystems driving the machines are a greater source of differentiation than previously.

It also seemed that there was less emphasis on Industry 4.0 and internet-of-things than in 2019. While this is obviously due to the absence of the Automate tradeshow from this year's event, I'd venture that it also marks the slow maturation of these trends, that instead of being new they're becoming useful, no longer standalone but integrated into machines and processes.

The biggest omission of both shows may be the absence of CAM and other process modeling solutions, as I don't recall seeing any of the big or niche names. That is, I find it surprising that technologies that assist production staff and manage shop floor knowledge were not really present, as these have the potential of addressing some of the ongoing workforce challenges. It has been shown that processes are what separate leading from trailing firms, and with today's software technologies even small manufacturers realize the benefit of in-house software process development; I expected to see more recognition of this and more solutions.

I'm going to try to attend the Assembly and Wisconsin Manufacturing and Technology shows next month, we'll see if anything stands out.

— Ben Conrad